Tag Archive | Madison Square Garden

Jonathan Borofsky’s Human Structures at Plaza 33, Penn Station

Human Structures
All Photos By Gail

We were just arriving for a fun press event at The Pennsy Food Hall in Penn Plaza, just out front of Madison Square Garden, when I spotted this fantastic, towering public art work by Jonathan Borofsky. Entitled Human Structures, the sculpture sits where Roy Lichtenstein’s Brushstroke Group sculpture previously stood. Human Structures closely resembles a tower of colorful, interlocking paper dolls. I like it.

Human Structures Detail

Aside from its obvious purpose as  selfie-magnet, Human Structures is part of Plaza33 Inc’s efforts to turn the no-man’s land outside of Penn Station into a welcoming pedestrian plaza hosting seasonal live music and performances.

Human Structures

Jonathan Borofsky’s Human Structures can be found at Plaza 33, on the East side of 33rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, in NYC.

Human Structures

Human Structures

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Pink Thing of The Day: Pink Fright Wig

Pink Fright Wig
All Photos By Gail

This bright Pink Wig, which I stopped to snap while walking south on 8th Avenue near Madison Square Garden, reminded me immediately of the  crazy, disheveled fright wig that Andy Warhol famously sported in his later years.  I’m picturing it on Andy’s head even as I type this.

Mane Beauty Supply Store Front

Spotted in the window of Mane Beautify Supply, located at 412 8th Avenue between 30th & 31st Streeta, New York, NY 10001.

Recommended Viewing: We Are X, The Death and Life of X Japan

We Are X Movie Poster
Above Image Courtesy of We Are X Film Dot Com. All Other Photos By Gail

When the most popular heavy metal band in Japan came to New York in October of 2014 to play a show at Madison Square Garden, they managed to sell out the legendary arena, despite being virtually unknown in America. X (known stateside as X Japan), got their start in the 1980s as a glam metal band, doing their best to shock audiences with their outrageous stage show and equally over-the-top, gender-bending physical appearances that included flamboyant rock fashions, wildly theatrical hairstyles and Kabuki-esque make-up. But what critics who initially dismissed the band as all style and no substance didn’t realize was that these guys could play their asses off, and were selling the type of rebellious image that repressed Japanese audiences couldn’t wait to buy. Now, an award-winning documentary, We Are X,  aims to bring the myth and enigma that is X Japan into your consciousness.

X Japan Concert Ad

Critics say that the mark of a good documentary is when its story is accessible to, and can be fully enjoyed by, audiences who are completely unfamiliar with its subject matter. Using the career-milestone Madison Square Garden concert as a jumping off point, and circling back to that show (which I attended) at the film’s end, Director Stephen Kijak (Stones in Exile, Scott Walker: 30 Century Man) has succeeded wildly at crafting a career-spanning Rock & Roll fable that will surely hook those who’ve never even heard of X Japan right from its opening credits.

Yoshiki at MSG
Yoshiki on Stage at MSG

Told primarily from the viewpoint of founding member Yoshiki; X Japan’s drummer, composer and charismatic leader, We Are X is both the story of the band’s groundbreaking 30-year career, and also the life story of Yoshiki, who turned to music as a child as a means to cope with the suicide of his father. Forming X as a teenager with school friend Toshi, who became the band’s lead singer, Yoshiki was driven to succeed by existential questions that haunted him from his father’s death; namely “What is my purpose?” and “why am I here?”

Yoshiki and Stephen Kijak
Yoshiki and Stephen Kijak Discuss the Film at a Post-Screening Q&A Here in NYC

Embracing a ‘Do or Die’ sensibility, X Japan became not just an innovative and successful rock band, but a cultural force as powerfully influential as that created by The Beatles decades before them. Not only have they achieved phenomenal record sales and concert attendances, but band members’ personal brands are associated with products as diverse as credit cards, wine, comic book superhero alter egos, and dolls made in their own likenesses. X Japan is also credited with spearheading the uniquely Japanese Visual Kei movement.

X at MSG
X Japan on Stage at MSG

The band’s great successes, however, were tempered with equally great tragedies. As a counterpoint to the celebratory  moments, the film carefully explores the suicides of two seminal band members, Hide (in 1998) and Taiji (in 2011), which shattered the lives of both X Japan’s surviving members, and devastated their fans, one of whom was driven to suicide because of the news. We Are X is a true life Rock & Roll story that really has everything.

Yoshiki and Toshi
Yoshiki and Toshi Rocking It Back in the Day!

Despite the intense personal/personnel drama, career challenges and many heart-rending moments, We Are X is also good fun, and thoroughly entertaining. One of my favorite parts happens towards the film’s end, when Yoshiki and Toshi are reunited in 2007, ten years after the singer abandoned X Japan to join a mind-controlling cult. Yoshiki recalls hanging out at the Palladium in Hollywood, where the friends were approached by two guys looking to buy drugs. One of the men asked the duo if they knew where they could score some X (meaning the psychedelic drug, Ecstasy). Yoshiki, whose grasp of the English language is obviously much  better now than it was back then, laughs when he recalls replying to the guy, with complete sincerity, “We are X!” Hilarious.

We Are X opens in theaters nationwide on Friday October 21st, 2016.

Grade: A+

X at MSG
X Japan On Stage at Madison Square Garden, October 2014

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Roy Lichtenstein’s Brushstroke Group Sculpture

Brushstroke Group 3
All Photos By Gail

Brushstroke Group is a public sculpture by pop arist Roy Liechtenstein that you can hardly miss if you are walking on Seventh Avenue between Madison Square Garden /Penn Station and Macys. The problem is: it’s nearly impossible to get photos that don’t have a ton of people them. Because, Midtown.

Brushstroke Group 1

Lichtenstein liked the idea of making brushstrokes that were not brushstrokes so much, he finally arrived at the idea of making a brushstroke that is actually a sculpture. His sculpture on 7th Avenue and 33rd Street is a 3D version of his brushstroke paintings — and only one of many other, different Brushstroke Group sculptures located in other US cities.

Brushstroke Group 2

This same sculpture was previously displayed at Navy Pier in Chicago in 2012. At some point, it will surely move along to a new home.

Brushstroke Group 4

Photographed at 7th Avenue and 33rd Street, Adjacent to Madison Square Garden!

X Japan at Madison Square Garden: Best Concert Ever!

X Japan Billboard
X Japan Billboard, Corner of 34th Street and 7th Avenue (All Photos By Gail)

Here in New York City, it is no secret that you can have a magical adventure if you are just willing to take a leap of faith into the unknown. This is what happened to me when I accepted an invitation to see Japan’s most famous heavy metal band X – known here in America as X Japan, owing to another band in Los Angeles that happens to also have that name. Prior to this past weekend’s concert at Madison Square Garden the only things I knew about X was that their drummer, Yoshiki had been immortalized in a comic book by Stan Lee, and one song, “Jade” – which, prior to Googling the lyrics, I thought was called “You Are Beautiful” due to its only discernible English lyrics.

X Japan Stage Logo
As You Can See, Their Stage had a Catwalk, Which Every Rock Stage Should Have.

Since I had no previous familiarity with X Japan’s music, this review will be based on my experience as someone who was seeing and hearing the band for the first time.  I would say that X Japan is going to appeal to your musical taste if you like any of the following:  Big Arena Rock, Heavy Metal, Glam Metal, Dream Theater, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and any 80s Metal Band. It’s probably due to my affinity for that latter, much maligned genre that X Japan resonated with me right away, and I would (probably) still rather listen to  the cheesiest ’80s Metal for 100 million billion years than to any charting modern band for 15 minutes.  Just being serious.

Please enjoy my pictures and commentary!

First, let’s meet the members of X Japan.

Toshi Lead Vocals

This is Toshi, lead singer and founding member. He and Yoshiki have known each other since they were four years old (45 years ago), and started their first band together when they were eleven.

Yoshiki on the Kit

This is Yoshiki, X Japan’s drummer, pianist, and resident Sex God.

Yoshiki Hair

When his hands aren’t busy playing an instrument, Yoshiki touches his hair 60 or 70 times a minute.

Pata Guitarist

Here we have Guitarist Pata, who has been with the band the longest next to Toshi and Yoshiki.

Heath Bassist

This is Heath, on Bass Guitar.

Sugizo Violin

Sugizo plays the Violin.

X Band on Stage

A female string quartet added to the atmosphere of their sometimes symphonic metal songs.

Besides the band sounding and playing great, there was a ton of visuals to keep your eyes entertained and your brain engaged, such as:

Skulls Stage Shot

Crazy Visual Projections!

Fire Background Stage Shot

X Red Fire wirh Prop

Giant Stage Props! In the above photo you can see the two halves of the letter “X” coming together from across the stage.

X Prop Stage shot

Here it is again!

X Japan Stage Prop Pink Fire

P1050663

Laser Lights and Fire Bombs!

Confetti Bazooka

Confetti Bazookas!

X Japan Wrist Band

When we first entered the arena, ushers gave everyone this wrist band thing. We wondered what it could be for, but a couple of fans told us it was probably something that was going to factor into the show, and that we should be sure to wear it. That was excellent advice because look what happened with those wrist bands about an hour into the nearly-three-hour show:

Lit Up Wrist Bands

Lit Up Wrist Bands

It was amazing!

Yoshiki on Drums

At one point during the show, Yoshiki’s drum riser actually moved down the Cat Walk and then rose up into the air over the crowd!

Yoshiki Rising Drum Riser

It was just insane!

Yoshiki at Piano

Yoshiki steps away from his massive kit to play piano many, many times during X Japan’s set. He even played a bit of Swan Lake! Here, he prays for everyone to have fun at the show. Prayers answered!

X Japan have been together off and on for 30 years. Here are some photos of what they looked like back in the day:

X Japan Old School

X Japan Old School

Two former members (not necessarily pictured above) have passed on. RIP!

Lyrics to Hero

They did a new song called “Hero” with the lyrics projected on the screen so fans could sing along.

Lyrics to Hero

“Hero” managed to be both uplifting and sad simultaneously.

X Band on Stage with Banner

Finally, it was time to say goodbye, as the members of X Japan gathered at the edge of the Catwalk and pulled this banner from the a fan in the audience. Yoshiki proceeded to wrap himself in it. Cute!

X Band on Stage Farewell

Goodbye X Japan and thanks for the crazy fun show!

THE SET LIST

MIRACLE   (INTRO)

JADE

RUSTY  NAIL

SILENT  JEALOUSY

BENEATH  THE SKIN

PATA   +   HEATH  SOLO

DRAIN

SUGIZO  VIOLIN  SOLO

KURENAI

HERO

BORN TO  BE FREE
·∙

ENCORE 1

PIANO  SOLO

DRUM  SOLO

FOREVER  LOVE

I.V.

X
·∙

ENCORE  2

ENDLESS RAIN

ART OF LIFE  (PIANO)

TMZ Tour NYC!

TMZ Bus Exterior Detail 2
All Photos By Gail

I’m going to go ahead and own the fact that on weeknights when I am at home, and also coherent, I’ll turn on TMZ and watch their low rent “news” on celebrity has-beens and wannabes that I’ve either never heard of before, or wish I hadn’t. I’m probably the least Star Struck blogger on the planet, but I consider TMZ to be my primary source of worthless celebrity pandering so that I can stay in the loop about what is “popular” – you know, for the kids. TMZ is also completely hilarious and boasts the least self-aware staff of any celebrity news program, so in that way it seems very down to earth and makes you feel like you’re hearing these crazy stories from people you know pretty well. That’s probably why the show is so popular.

TMZ Bus Exterior Detail

Fans of the show will be excited to find out that TMZ, in association with On Location Tours, now has a daily, two-hour bus tour you can sign up for that will take you all around the city from midtown to the tip of the island and back again, and point out dozens of places where celebrities hangout, pass out, get wasted, film their shows, actually live, used to live, got beat up, or were deeply embarrassed about something or other. It’s pretty fun!

You’ll board your luxury, air conditioned coach at the corner of 51st St. and Broadway, across the street from this diner:

Ellen's Stardust Diner

Our awesome tour guide was Matt Chadwick, an extremely friendly and equally hilarious and knowledgeable young man who cracked jokes incessantly but also revealed fascinating information such as:

  • Jim Carrey has an art Studio on Perry Street
  • Ed Burns is married to Christie Turlington
  • Macy’s not only has the oldest working escalators in the country (I’ve seen them!) but also the largest collection of shoes under one roof
  • Chris Brown beat up Drake at some club near the Holland Tunnel that I already forgot the name of, because I could care less about those two. Seriously who cares?
  • Columbus Circle is the spot from which all distances to NYC are measured

Matt Chadwick Tour Guide
Matt: Our Tour Guide and Former Australian Idol Finalist

What I enjoyed most about the tour was getting to see neighborhoods in Manhattan that I honestly never go to and driving down streets that I’ve never seen before in my life. And I’ve lived in Manhattan over 20 years! But, while I was on the TMZ Tour, I felt like I was visiting a foreign land, and it made me want to go to these neighborhoods on my own, and explore.

TMZ Bus Interior
Bus Interior with Video Monitors

The entire time that the bus is cruising around and your tour guide, who will be Matt if you’re very lucky, is pointing out places where Lady Gaga used to do burlesque, the loft where Beyoncé and Jay Z live, the apartment above the now closed Daffy’s (RIP) where Heath Ledger overdosed, and most recently, the park on lower 6th Ave. where Jonah Hill was recently spotted taking a photograph of a placenta (don’t ask), you will be entertained by hilarious and clever TMZ-produced video clips, that will further the action with additional graphics, interviews and explanations of what you’re seeing. It seems like the whole TMZ staff gets involved, so you will get to see all of your favorites, including Harvey.

During our tour, Matt hosted few rounds of fun trivia guessing games such as “Celebrity or Homeless Person?” and “The Finger or a Wave?” where the correct answer was awarded with a rare TMZ T-Shirt. So, Free Stuff! Matt really kept things rolling, and our driver was exceptionally skilled at taking very tight corners, and not killing anyone – because you know that pedestrians in New York City don’t stop crossing the street for anyone! The TMZ Tour is a fun way to spend two hours for locals who just want to get out of the house and also a good thing to take your out-of-town friends to. Despite the fact that we saw no celebrities, I had a great time!

Details
Where: 51st St & Broadway (exact location given upon purchase)
When: Weekdays & Sundays at 10:00 AM & 1:00 PM, Saturdays at 1:00 PM & 4:00 PM.
Cost: $49 + $3 ticket fee (Adult), $39 + $3 ticket fee (Children 11 & under)
Duration: Approximately 2 hours
Advance Ticket Purchase is Required so buy tickets at This Link!

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